As co-founder of Newsboys 12 years ago in Australia, Peter Furler doesn't
mind admitting that "we were really bad when we started."
Of course, he can say that now because Newsboys have much more to boast
about these days. During the `90s, the Nashville-based quintet has become
one of pop's most solidly accomplished ensembles, selling nearly three
million records, earning three Grammy nominations, three gold records,
four Dove awards, and numerous other accolades. Their blend of polished,
energetic songcraft and resonant lyrical themes have resulted in meaningful
music that engages the ears and the soul.
And the feet, for with Love Liberty Disco -- Newsboys' 8th album --
the quintet greets the turn of the century with their best work yet,
a stirring piece that brings Newsboys to an exciting new pinnacle of
"I think we just wanted to make a bigger and better and bolder
and more beautiful record than before,' says bassist Phil Joel. ``We
don't really sit down with a solid, thematic agenda. It usually takes
its own course as the record progresses.'
Adds keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, "This unit has been together
seven years. We're learning how to really work with each other and striving
to just get better. And we've never been a band that's just been content
with saying 'How are we going to top that?' Every record that comes
out is different and challenging -- for us and our fans.'
On Love Liberty Disco, Newsboys have arrived at a particularly triumphant
place in their career, completing a transition that began two years
ago. That's when lead singer John James left the band, bringing Furler-who
moved to the United States in 1991-- up front to take his place, and
moving Duncan Philips onto the drum stool.
Newsboys responded well to that particular challenge; the subsequent
album, Step Up to the Microphone -- the first time the group produced
itself -- resulted in 4 number one hits (``Entertaining Angels") and
sales that thrilled Newsboys' faithful and attracted a broader audience,
particularly via the heavy touring the group did to support the album.
And that only left them eager to take the next step.
Newsboys took that next step last January, heading into the studio
for an uncharacteristic vacation session to work on some of the songs
that Furler and Joel wrote during a beachfront vacation with their wives
in Florida. The group, which also includes guitarist Jody Davis, kicked
out seven songs during 11 days, four of which -- 'Break,' 'Fall on You,'
'I Would Give Everything' and 'Everyone's Someone' -- made it to the
"We wanted to just get a good head start on this record,' explains
Joel. "It wasn't due for a long time, so it was kind of a test,
really, to see if we could jump in a little less cautiously and just
charge on through and record some of these songs without thinking about
it too much, just sitting back and letting it flow.'
It worked like a charm, according to Furler, who also produced Love
Liberty Disco. "Most times, for every record we've ever made, we
walked into the studio with five songs and we've dropped two of them
and ended up writing the rest while the record was going down,' he relates.
"We knew that was not the best way to do it. This record we went
in with 40 songs, and it was a great pleasure to be able to pick from
that. If we didn't feel like doing a particular one, it was easy to
move on and keep the recording process."
Most importantly, the January session set a tone for when Newsboys
reconvened in June at the White House studios, particularly in the dry,
forceful drum sound that Joel says ``carried the whole record.'
"This is what the band sounds like when we're playing live,' says
Frankenstein. "A lot of times I've gotten comments from people
who say `Man, I love it on record, but live it's just awesome. I think
we wanted to capture more of that this time.'
And for those fans that anticipate Newsboys' live performances, their
Spring 2000 tour will be a sure-fire hit. This time around the band
travels with a specially created, self-contained inflatable venue. This
air-dome will be the showcase for the band as they play 70 shows in
50 cities to crowds nationwide.
As for the content of the songs on Love Liberty Disco, they carry a
heft and examine issues such as self image, responsibility, spirituality
and the need for love, and not just the romantic variety, in our lives.
That certainly comes across in the ebullient title track, which started
as a between-songs jam according to Furler -- and grew into a song that
gave Love Liberty Disco another point of focus.
"We've begun to realize that love and freedom and family are three
key points in this faith that we have," says Joel. "These are the things
that we have as the body of Christ and I think growing up in the church
we forget that and neglect to let our neighbor in on it. It's really
hit home that we need to be sharing this."
"Sometimes the outside world is not is outside as you think, sometimes
it's right inside the church" states Furler "we find that a lot of the
people we play to are confused about faith, about the world, and confused
Some of those were drawn from the group's travels through impoverished
areas of Mexico last year. "That really changes you big time,'
says Frankenstein. "It keeps your perspective in check.' Newsboys
expect a similar experience when they travel to Brazil to play at the
SOS da Vida Festival (SOS For Life) in San Paulo.
And that will only enrich an already deep and thoughtful group of songs
that comprise Love Liberty Disco. This is message music for the masses,
an album that's as thought-provoking as it is enormously tuneful, ultimately
establishing Newsboys as an exciting and important force in pop music.
"We want anyone to come along to it,' insists Joel. "We're
getting older, and I think we're beginning to see a little more of what
matters. I think our perspective is getting a little clearer. I think
it reflects in this record.'
To which Furler adds, "We're not here to play to one camp. We're
trying to make the best music and better ourselves each time."